Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Two Horrible Motorcycle Accidents in Miami Area Remind South Florida of the Dangers in Riding Motorcycles Here

Motorcycles are fun and freeing - and the weather here in South Florida invites all sorts of people to drive our roadways on their motorcycle - be it a rice chopper, a cruiser, whatever.

It's adventurous. It's romantic. It's downright American.
However, in two separate news stories this week, both involving motorcycle accidents, people were seriously injured and killed while peacefully riding along on their bikes.

These tragedies remind all of us how serious these types of crashes can be. Even when -- especially when -- the biker is doing absolutely nothing wrong.

1. Pembroke Park, biker hit from behind by SUV - serious injuries
In Hollywood, Florida, bike enthusiast Ytzhak Hartzy was hit from behind on I95 near Pembroke Road (in the park) by a hit-and-run driver driving a black Kia SUV early Sunday morning. Last we knew he remained in critical condition at Memorial Regional Hospital.

The Florida Highway Patrol Sergeant is investigating - but they know the driver's identity (and they've arrested him) thanks to witness John Roxey, who saw Hartzy get hit, fly into the air, and roll down the roadway several hundred feet. Roxey and a pal followed the hit-and-run driver and held him until the cops arrived.

(Now, there's a great witness for trial, right?)

2. Lakeland, two died as motorcycle tries to avoid car pulling out of driveway
In Lakeland, Michael Mitts and his passenger, Laura Nalley, were riding a motorcycle down North Chestnut Road on Monday evening (about 7:30 p.m. according to the Florida Highway Patrol), when a driver started backing out of his driveway oblivious to the bike coming down the road.

Mitts hit the brakes. Both Mitts and Nalley were thrown from the bike; the bike crashed into the car. Both were pronounced dead at the crash scene.

Florida Law and Motorcycle Crashes - Personal Injuries and Wrongful Death in Motorcycle Accidents
In Florida, the law requires that anyone driving a motorcycle on Florida roads know what they are doing: you must have special knowledge and the state gives you a special license to drive a two-wheel motor vehicle. Florida also requires helmets.

However, even the most experienced rider - wearing leathers, obeying the law with that helmet - is vulnerable to the cage drivers out there.

Like these two examples. In both these motorcycle crashes, there doesn't appear to be any question that the motorcycle drivers were not at fault here.

Whether or not criminal cases will proceed against the car (or SUV) drivers in these terrible wrecks, the truth is that Florida personal injury law provides some level of justice in the form of a civil lawsuit.

Under the law of negligence here in Florida, damages in the form of wrongful death, pain and suffering, lost wages, medical care, etc. can be obtained through a personal injury lawsuit.

What's involved in a Florida motorcycle accident negligence lawsuit?

Under Florida law, when someone causes personal injury to another due to their negligent acts, then they are legally responsible for all the harm that results from what they've done.

The personal injury lawsuit must prove that:
1. There was a duty of care owed to the person injured (the one on the motorcycle) in this circumstance -- which is clear from the laws covering driving on Florida's roads;
2. For some reason (driving drunk? distracted driving?), the defendant failed to meet his or her duty of care to the guy on the bike; and
3. As a result, the plaintiff (e.g., the motorcycle driver or passenger) was injured or killed.

By Bryant Esquenazi on May 17, 2011 1:37 PM

TMZ Scoop on A-List Celebrity Herpes Lawsuit: Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) Can Be Basis for Personal Injury Lawsuit in Florida

TMZ has another big celebrity news story, one that is building this week: seems that an A-list celebrity (whose name has not been released yet) has been sued for giving someone herpes.

That's right. Some very big movie star ( according to the pleadings, an "A-list celebrity of substantial fame internationally") intentionally gave a sexually transmitted disease to a woman (her name's withheld, too) and she has filed a lawsuit for damages based upon having herpes now.

Bases of the Movie Star STD Injury claim include (1) sexual battery; (2) infliction of emotional distress, intentional and negligent; and (3) fraud. Requested personal injury damages? TMZ is claiming it's $20,000,000.00.
Today, the plaintiff has revealed that there are videotapes which can be used as evidence that the claims are not frivolous. TMZ is keeping track of all the offers that are being made (these are in the millions of dollars) for these tapes; however, so far the videos remain within the attorneys' evidence files.

In Florida, Can You Sue for Personal Injury Damages As A Result of Getting an STD? Yes, You Can.

First of all, Florida recognizes that it's wrong for someone with an STD to infect someone else with the disease, especially when they are aware that they had an STD.

For several sexually transmitted diseases, this has been made a crime under Florida law and the person can be prosecuted by the district attorney's office for doing this. (Read the statute and its STD list here.)

Under Florida's personal injury law, giving someone a sexually transmitted disease can form the basis of a civil lawsuit, analogous to the one filed in California yesterday.

However, insurance policies will only provide coverage - and therefore money to pay any judgment - if the transmission was negligently done and not intentional. If the defendant knew that they had the STD and went ahead anyway, then there will not be insurance coverage. The defendant's assets will have to cover whatever monetary awards or judgments result from the lawsuit.

For the California International A-List Movie Star lawsuit, the plaintiff probably isn't concerned about collectibility of a judgment. You might be, if you're thinking about suing for an STD, and putting all that personal, private information into the public record.

By Bryant Esquenazi on May 12, 2011 2:23 PM

What is PIP Insurance Coverage - and How Insurance Companies Just Lost Their Latest Try at Getting Florida to Gut PIP Coverage

Personal Injury Protection, or "PIP" coverage, is something offered to Floridians as part of their automobile insurance policy. Right now, under Florida law, every car owner and driver must have at least $10,000 PIP coverage.

If you are in a car accident in Florida, this PIP coverage kicks in, never asking who's to blame. The $10,000 coverage is there, ready to help. Since the insurance company isn't allowed to assess blame here, Florida is called a "no fault" state.

PIP will cover up to 80% of your medical bills and up to 60% of your lost wages - up to that $10,000 cap. No questions asked.

Insurance companies are against PIP coverage because they are arguing that too many people take advantage of it, setting up fake insurance claims just to get the money. We've discussed this before; now, however, Tampa's Fox 13 Investigative Reporter has just published its own expose on PIP coverage fraud, which may help drive those pushing the legislature for change in the future.

Florida is No. 1 in the USA for Fraud PIP Claims
According to Tampa Bay reporter Doug Smith, Florida is actually number 1 in the United States for these kinds of fraud -- and Tampa is tops within the state for filing fake PIP claims.

According to the Fox story, many of these fake PIP claims are professional jobs where there are staged wrecks and clinics are set up to handle the filings. The crashes are set up to have lots of folk involved, so that $10,000 cap can be milked. Eight people can mean close to $80,000 from one scam. The news story goes on to interview those in the know, including police detectives who suggest that these big crash scams are orchestrated by organized crime.

Florida Legislature Nixes Reform - No Changes to PIP Laws for Now
In January, we discussed PIP reform proposals that were being talked about up in the state capital and the efforts of insurance carriers to push reforms through, from bill to law. They've failed.

The insurance industry had gone so far as to build up proposed comprehensive reforms to Florida's PIP laws, creating one big comprehensive personal insurance coverage reform bill.

Around ten days ago, that all fizzled out when the Florida House committee hearing the proposal voted against it. Specifically, HB967/HB1411 - the biggest attempt at changing PIP laws here in Florida in the past 4 years - died as it was voted down by the Florida House Subcommittee on Health Care and Human Services.

Read the dead bill's language here -- and see for yourself that what didn't succeed into turning into law this year was not only an attempt at altering your insurance coverage (instead of boosting regulations to stop criminals via criminal investigation, etc.) but an attempt to:

  1. give the insurance companies the right to cap the charges they would cover under PIP for medical services;

  1. limit the amount of money that attorneys could charge for their work regarding these crashes; and

  1. granting the insurance company even more time (read that delay) in investigating claims before they pay.

It's one thing to fight crime. It's another thing to hurt all Floridians who unfortunately are involved in an accident. Sounds like lots of Florida accident victims may have just dodged a bullet.

By Bryant Esquenazi on May 10, 2011 3:41 PM

South Florida Kava Bars May Be Trendy - and Dangerous: New Study Warns Against Kava Tea

Here in South Florida, like it or not, we're usually on the cutting edge of new trends. Maybe it's because of the cosmopolitan flair of Miami. Maybe it's because of all the celebrities that love to vacation here.

Kava Bars a Popular Favorite Here in South Florida
Whatever the reason: it was almost a year ago to the day that the Palm Beach Post was reporting about the latest thing: a surge in Kava Bars popping up in South Florida. Allison Ross blogged in an article entitled, "Kava Bars Popping Up in South Florida," that kava tea was the new drink for bars in the Miami area - and this was true even though kava does not have an alcohol content.

Today, if you google "kava bars south florida" you'll find a long list of establishments serving Kava Tea from which to choose. They seem to be so competitive, in fact, that they've got promotions to draw you into their bar and away from their competition down the street, as well as different atmospheres to tempt you.

Read through the various South Florida kava bars and you find cozy ones. Friendly ones. Ones with live music. Ones that are more restaurant than bar, more bar than restaurant.

Kava Bars are a big deal here in Miami Beach.
What is Kava? It's something originating in the South Pacific that is a plant revered for its properties. Kava threads itself through social and cultural traditions as well as medicinal and religious ones in a large number of Southern Pacific islands, such as Tonga, Fiji, Hawaii, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Vanuatu. In fact, Kava is a grown as a cash crop in Vanuatu and Fiji.

Some folk chew the Kava root or take a Kava pill, but drinking Kava tea appears to be the most popular way to imbibe Kava. You can buy Kava Tea at your local store or online, it's not expensive. You can also go to your local Kava Bar and order a specially prepared Kava drink just for you. Cold or hot.

New Research Study Warns Against Kava Tea
It's not the first warning that Kava may hurt you, but the latest study warning against the dangers of Kava tea is getting lots of attention and respect. Last week, the American Journal of Emergency Medicine published a study released by the University of Rochester Medical Center on the dangers of Kava Tea.

The case study even supports its assertion of the growing popularity of Kava Tea by pointing to three new Palm Beach Kava Bars that have opened recently here in South Florida.

This case study is heralded as the first piece of scientific literature dealing with Kava tea. (Hence, the notoriety that this study is getting around the world). Here's the citation to the study if you wish to purchase the complete research study online in pdf format: Ryan Bodkin, Sandra Schneider, Donna Rekkerth, Linda Spillane, Michael Kamali. Rhabdomyolysis associated with kava ingestion. The American Journal of Emergency Medicine, 2011; DOI: 10.1016/j.ajem.2011.01.030.

What's the big deal?
Seems that this case study began when a 34-year-old guy was riding his bike along some roadway in or near the University of Rochester when he collapsed on the side of the road. Wham. When he arrived at the E.R., they discovered that he had recently injested Kava Tea and tied the Kava to his episode where he had nearly suffered complete kidney failure as well as a muscle breakdown.

The guy up in New York recovered, he's okay. However, the University of Rochester study is being waved like a big, big red flag by all sorts of folk: doctors, researchers, media outlets, and of course, Big Pharma who don't like herbal remedies and the like.

So, will Kava Tea -- which has been a popular beverage among South Pacific Islanders for over 3000 years -- be found dangerous to drink here in South Florida?

South Floridians will probably continue to frequent Kava Bars. And, here's the thing: if you do suffer symptoms of harm due to drinking Kava, then Florida laws do exist to protect you.
Personal injury laws are on the books for just this sort of thing. Kava may not be an alcoholic beverage, but those who manufacturer, distribute, and sell this herb or drink are still responsible for its safety.

 Bryant Esquenazi on May 5, 2011 1:49 PM

Honda Airbag Recall Up to 1.6 Million With Today's Recall of 833,000 More Honda Models for Exploding Airbags

Honda Accords, Honda Civics, Acuras, Honda CR-Vs -- looks like almost every popular model of Honda driven on U.S. roadways today may be at risk of an airbag that explodes without warning.

The Honda recalls of airbags just got lots bigger today, and now we're talking over 1,600,000 Honda vehicles that may be dangerous to drive - and are being driven.

What's the New Honda Airbag Recall?
Honda announced in a company press release yesterday that Honda was increasing the number of Honda and Acuras that were being recalled. And, it's a lot of cars that have been recalled: 833,000 cars to be exact.

What's going on? Seems that Hondas can have flaws in their airbag inflators -- and the airbags can suddenly pop. That's right: you're driving along, and there goes the airbag.

Specifically, you need to stop driving your vehicle and have it checked out at the Honda dealer if you drive a:
  • 2001 Accord
  • 2002 Honda Accord
  • 2001 Honda Civic
  • 2002 Honda Civic
  • 2002 Honda Odyssey
  • 2002 Honda CR-V
  • 2003 Honda CR-V
  • 2002 Honda Acura 3.2 TL
  • 2003 Honda Acura 3.2 TL
  • 2003 Honda Acura 3.2 CL.

This is the THIRD recall of Honda airbags. We can only hope that it's the last.

By Bryant Esquenazi on May 3, 2011 1:42 PM

Florida Ex-American Idol Finalist Paige Miles Narrowly Escapes As GMC Envoy Bursts Into Flames

Last year, Paige Miles of Naples, Florida sang her way to 11th place in the American Idol talent show. Very impressive, and it's surprising to no one that yesterday, Paige Miles was at a rehearsal. Paige Miles has a very bright future ahead of her.

However, that bright future almost ended in tragedy when the SUV she was driving, a GMC Envoy, burst into flames while she driving the vehicle home. That's right: a fire started while the vehicle was in motion, in traffic, on a Florida roadway.

Luckily, Paige Miles managed to get out safely.
On her Facebook page, she described jumping out of the vehicle while it was still moving, to get away from the flames.

She has also posted photos of the GMC Envoy, and the extensive damage caused by this mysterious fire. Go here to have a look at the aftermath.

GMC Envoy Fire - Obvious Argument of Product Defect
Paige Miles has explained that she believes the fire started from some sort of electrical problem. However, experts will have to go over the wreckage with a fine-toothed comb to determine what really happened this week, and why a fire began in a moving vehicle.

This is something that should never, ever happen. Anyone driving a GMC Envoy needs to be aware of this incident, and at the minimum, carry a fire extinguisher with them in the front passenger section where it can be easily found and used.

Product Liability - One Bad Apple or Defective Product Line
Without a major recall of GMC Envoys due to fires like this, then it's too soon to know whether or not Paige Miles is a victim of an individually flawed product, or if all models of this SUV are vulnerable to similar events. It's better to be safe than sorry right now, if you're an Envoy driver.

Under Florida law, product liability protections exist for either situation: a bad apple in a great product line, or a defective product line. Either way, plaintiffs who have been harmed by products can force the manufacturer to take responsibility for their mistake.

GMC knows this. You can be sure that they are checking out GMC Envoys today after news of Paige Miles' narrow escape. Or they better be.

 By Bryant Esquenazi on April 28, 2011 11:18 AM

Dolphin Expressway PileUp Today - Good Example of Florida's Good Samaritan Law In Action

This morning, several Miami folk left their homes thinking that they had all the time in the world to do things on their to-do lists: shop, schedule an oil change for the car, vote on American Idol this week, follow the Miami Heat to the NBA Championship - just like we all did.

Except these few of our fellow Miamians had their life change today. What happened?

They were involved in a huge, horrific traffic pileup on Dolphin Expressway this morning. It was a multi-car pile up. News reports are that one person died in the car crash(es), and nine people were seriously injured.

And, out of those 9 people who were hurt but hopefully will live to tell their stories of what happened today, more than one may well have survived because other Miamians stopped and helped them.

Dolphin Expressway Crash - People Stop to Help those in Need
WSVN-TV interviewed men who didn't just rubberneck, but stopped their vehicles and ran to help people who were injured, trapped, screaming in pain. The victims of the Dolphin Expressway accident today undoubtedly are grateful to them, as well as their families.

It's also probably very true to say that all of Miami is both proud and grateful that we have people like this living in our community. Heroes. No other word for them.

Florida's Good Samaritan Law
It's sad to say that in the past - and it's still true in some other states - that Good Samaritans like those who went into action today might have involuntarily exposed themselves to a lawsuit in the future. Yes, sad but true that there are people who got sued just for trying to do the right thing.

Not in Florida. Not now.
In Florida, we have laws in place to protect Good Samaritans in situations like this one today. The Florida Good Samaritan Act, Florida Statute 168.13, provides immunity to those (including physicians) to stop to help in an emergency.

Florida personal injury attorneys are all for seeking justice in situations like this -- going after product liability claims when cars or trucks or SUVs fail in some way, or suing for road conditions that should have been fixed, or whatever else may cause horrible accidents like this one today.

Justice in this country depends upon brave plaintiffs bringing negligent defendants to task for their bad acts.

However, it's also justice to protect those who stop and risk themselves as they act to help others in trouble. Like the heroes today.

The Florida Good Samaritan Law is a good thing. It's something that Florida can be proud of - right along with the character of those Floridians we saw on that highway today.

By Bryant Esquenazi on April 26, 2011 1:31 PM

Miami Heat Sweep? Online Gambling and Sports Betting - Damages Aren't Protected Under Florida Law

Here in Miami, as well as most of South Florida, we're pretty psyched about the 2011 NBA Playoffs. After all, the Miami Heat have just toyed once again with the 76ers like a cat toys with a mouse: yesterday, final score in Game 2 of the series, 94 - 73.

Sweep! Sweep!
The Sun Sentinel is all for a sweep, and gives us all the analysis on why a Heat Sweep is going to be a done deal, up there in the City of Brotherly Love. Who in Miami is going to argue with Shandel Richardson's take on things? Not anyone here in Miami Beach.

Fun with the Heat - Be Careful Out There, Miami
We've posted before about big Miami events, and how drinking and partying tied to big events can result in personal injuries. Personal injury lawsuits, unfortunately, are all too often based upon good times gone bad, with serious injuries or wrongful death resulting.

So, once again, at all the inevitable Miami Heat Playoff parties - remember to be careful. Stay safe. While there are Florida laws available to those who are injured or killed in car crashes, slip and falls, assaults, and other festivity-related injuries and accidents, the better option is to avoid becoming a party plaintiff.

Not Every Injury Is Protected Under Florida Law
Finally, one last note: not every harm that Floridians may suffer during the Miami Heat path to the 2011 NBA Championship is protected by the law. Big one: losses from gambling - and more importantly, winnings from gambling.

If you gamble and win a bet on the Miami Heat, then know that this is not legal in Florida (even though there's a fight for online gambling for sporting events to be legalized across the country). If you bet and you win, and then you cannot collect your money, it's an injury you are going to have to deal with without the help of a lawyer.

Get injured in a car crash, bar fight, or fall? Personal injury claims can be asserted.

Get stiffed on a Miami Heat bet? You're on your own. We can't help you there.

By Bryant Esquenazi on April 21, 2011 1:40 PM

New Nissan Recalls: Thousands of Nissan Leafs Recalled to Dealer This Week

Another big car maker recalls its product this week. This time, it's Nissan. Seems that its cute little economical electric Leaf sedan has a big ignition glitch. That's right: the Leaf, which is reportedly becoming really, really popular here in the U.S. - at least by electric car standards - has a big flaw.

What's the problem with the Nissan Leaf?
Sometimes, Nissan Leafs won't start. Turn the ignition - zip. Leafs apparently just sit there.

So, Nissan is recalling all its little Leafs back to the dealer, so the ignition problem can be repaired. Since starting a car isn't considered to be a problem that usually causes a danger, the recall isn't being labelled the same way that say, a defective tire (Ford this month) or a injection system (Toyota last year) are labelled.

Still, the recall this week by another major car maker of cars already released into the marketplace should give us pause.

  • Shouldn't consumers be able to trust products that they buy in the marketplace?
  • Shouldn't car makers make sure that their vehicles are ready for use before they sell them?

Products Liabilty Laws Seek Justice for Injuries After the Fact
In Florida, as well as the other 49 states in this country, there are laws on the books that personal injury victims can use to get justice when a manufacturer sends a defective product out into the marketplace and it hurts them. Plaintiffs can sue for damages from defective products that are defective by design, like those subject to recall. They can also sue for monetary damages when an individual product has hurt them even though on the whole, the product line is not dangerous.

For the country, however, it is defective product lawsuits where the entire product line is defective that brings protection. It is through big victories in defective product lawsuits that real change happens in this country -- because sometimes, it's only money that makes the corporation take heed and change its product (or remove it from the marketplace).

Nissan Escapes Courtroom Battles Here
In the case of the Nissan Leaf, this defective product won't mean much, product liability lawsuit wise. Since the lawsuit must show damage to be a viable claim, and a car not starting isn't likely to hurt someone, we cannot expect products liability lawsuits to teach Nissan to be more careful. (Every injury lawsuit must show (1) liability and (2) harm.)

Instead, we must rely on the government's oversight -- and word of mouth (like this post) on a product that is growing in popularity. Nissan Leafs are being recalled, and if you own one, you should know this.

 By Bryant Esquenazi on April 19, 2011 2:38 PM

LeBron James' mom Gloria James Sued for Personal Injury Damages by Valet

Last week, we predicted that a personal injury lawsuit would be following along behind the criminal charges that were filed against Gloria James, mother of Miami Heat's LeBron James, because of an altercation at the famed Fontainebleau Hotel earlier this month. Sure enough, a Miami - Dade County lawsuit was filed this week.

The Valet Has Sued LeBron James' Mom For Florida Personal Injury Damages
  • emotional distress
  • humiliation
  • mental anguish
  • medical expenses
  • the loss of the ability to earn money, and
  • the loss of capacity for enjoyment of life.
Liability Must Be Proven First
These allegations of harm are based upon two bases for liability: (1) negligence and (2) assault and battery. The plantiff must prove these legal bases -- "causes of action" -- before any damages can be awarded.

Damages Must Also Be Proven By Valid Evidence
Once the liability has been proven by admitted evidence, then the damages must be proven, also by admitted evidence. The valet will have to provide testimony and documents to support the harm he has purportedly experienced: e.g., facts to show that he has lost the capacity to enjoy life, etc.

The Amount of Evidence Must Be a "Preponderance"
In civil cases, unlike the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard for criminal matters, there must be enough evidence to prove the fact is more likely than not true. Every plaintiff has to provide a certain amount of evidence in order to prove their case - and the judge decides if this has been done.

The valet, as the plaintiff in this civil lawsuit, must prove it is more likely than not true that:
  1. Lebron James' mother was negligent under Florida law.
  2. Gloria James legally committed civil assault and battery against the valet.
Only after the plaintiff has met this liability burden will he have an opportunity to submit evidence of damage; again, as plaintiff in this civil lawsuit, he must prove it is more likely than not true that:
How Is This Evidence Provided in a Lawsuit?
Evidence is provided in two ways: by witness testimony and by admitted documents. Documents can include videotapes, audiotapes, etc. under Florida law. Accordingly, the plaintiff can take the stand and tell the jury what he's experienced. He can also introduce things like doctor's bills and pay stubs.

Of course, LeBron James' mother can also introduce evidence in her defense. Evidence that refutes the plaintiff's claims.

Today, TMZ offers a surveillance video of the incident itself. The video has a lot of folk asking who's really to blame for the event: the valet or Mrs. James. Watch it for yourself and see what you think -- because if this case gets to trial, then the jury will be watching this same video to decide that "More Likely Than Not" question.

By Bryant Esquenazi on April 14, 2011 1:24 PM

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fatal Car Crash in West Palm Beach Provides Lessons to South Florida Re Importance of Insurance

It was six o'clock in the morning.

No one can know for sure when or if driver Rodlin Hyppolite, 39, saw that Mustang speeding toward the Mitsubishi Galant as Hyppolite drove along Elmhurst Road. Hyppolite died at the scene of the crash. Passenger Maryory Cruz, 21, survived the accident, but she's suffering from serious injuries. Both Hyppolite and Cruz hail from West Palm Beach.

Jorge Salinas, 27, was arrested for (1) driving without a license and causing death and (2) driving without a license and causing serious injury. The test results for whether or not he was driving drunk have not been released.

Here's the thing: right now, it's not a question of drunk driving -- it's a question of no insurance. If he didn't have a license to drive, then did he have insurance to cover a wreck?

The Importance of Having Car Insurance
From a legal perspective, there is Florida law in place for a wrongful death action in cases of fatal car accidents where the victim is not the one at fault for the wreck, as well as personal injury claims that are available to those who are seriously injured in accidents like these.

In other words, Florida law provides an avenue for justice here - both for the man who died in this wreck, as well as the passenger who today fights to recover from serious and painful injuries in a hospital intensive care unit.

However, even assuming that these avenues were used and damages were awarded, the reality is that insurance carriers are usually the pockets where most of the money actually comes from to satisfy personal injury and wrongful death judgments.

That's why car insurance is mandatory in so many states. To protect against cases like this: where the out-of-state driver -- who the police have already deemed responsible for this tragedy -- may well not have the personal resources to cover the literal and practical and real costs of what he has done.

Florida Law Regarding Mandatory Car Insurance
In Florida, the Florida Financial Responsibility Law requires that any person at fault in a crash resulting in bodily injury and property damage to others must have in effect at the time of the crash full liability insurance coverage, which at the minimum should be:
  • bodily injury liability of $10,000 per person,
  • bodily injury liability of $20,000 per crash,
  • $10,000 property damage liability per crash, and
  • personal injury protection limits of $10,000 per person per crash.
However, the fact that yesterday's driver, Jorge Salinas, was cavalier enough to be speeding along Florida roads without a driver's license does suggest that he may well not have followed Florida law regarding having minimum insurance coverage.

Under Florida law, without a policy, the winning plaintiffs can seek to enforce any judgment with any property he may own that isn't judgment-proof. Whatever that is.

What happens if he doesn't have insurance?
Under Florida law, the lawsuit judgment is immediately enforceable, and the defendant's driver's license, car tags, and vehicle registrations are suspended for 20 years or until the judgment is satisfied.

Of course, to someone who is already driving without a license, this may not sound very scary.

What's left?
Looking for another defendant, for one thing. Where did this man come from? If he was drunk, then does the bar or partygiver have a legal responsibility here? Did the car itself fail in some way -- will Salinas report failed brakes, for example?

There's still hope for the victims here. But it's a harder road for them if this guy was driving without a license and without insurance.

 By Bryant Esquenazi on April 12, 2011 1:55 PM